TOUGH WORK: South Burnett community chaplain Jim Hodge said our farmers are hard workers and face many pressures.
TOUGH WORK: South Burnett community chaplain Jim Hodge said our farmers are hard workers and face many pressures. Jessica McGrath

Hard pressures of the land our farmers face

PEOPLE living in rural and remote areas face a unique set of challenges and stress from living out on the land.

South Burnett community chaplain Jim Hodge said rural and remote residents face many different types of pressures.

"Natural disasters such as bush fires, floods, storms and droughts all cause devastation in some way or another for those in rural communities,” he said.

Normal climatic conditions such as too little rain or too much rain at the wrong time can impact the crops and cattle, Mr Hodge said.

Droughts were a familiar pattern in Australia and extreme drought was an added pressure on rural people.

"Their crops fail and cattle have little to no feed, causing a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, that could lead to other social, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual factors,” he said.

Financial constraints were a considerable pressure for those working in the farming industry since they had a lack of control over their income, Mr Hodge said.

A farmer's income can fluctuate based on the market, including overseas markets, the weather and performance of crops and cattle.

"After a natural disaster people on land may not have an income for some time, but they still have financial obligations that need to be met month to month,” Mr Hodge said.

Further financial stress could result from a debt presence, with farmers continuing to use old and outdated equipment which would be likely to breakdown and require maintenance.

"Farmers are hard workers, they work hard long hours which does impact on other areas of their life, health and wellbeing,” Mr Hodge said.

Living in rural areas can cause isolation, or feelings of isolation, which is heightened by a lack of services, he said.

"If you get sick or you end up in hospital, the work still needs to continue, normally a family or friend may lend a hand during these times, but sometimes there is no one,” Mr Hodge said.

Those living rurally in the South Burnett face similar pressures as other areas in Australia, however a combination of these factors increases a farmer's stress, he said.

"It just adds further pressures to people's lives that can lead to depression, family breakdown, health concerns and social isolation,” he said.

Mr Hodge provides holistic pastoral care to South Burnett farmers and men shed groups.

If you feel you need to talk to someone about any of the issues raised contact lifeline on 13 11 14.